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Archive for the tag “humanity”

Disenfranchised

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I lost a child.  You lost a parent.  She lost a spouse.  He lost a limb.  We lose what we lose, and when it’s lost, it is gone.  Not misplaced. 

Not missing like car keys to be found five minutes later next to the half-and-half in the fridge. 

But missing like one minute you’re saying “Good morning”, “Goodnight”, “See you soon”, and the next, you’re never saying it again, except to a ghost.

This is grief, unless it’s not your child, your parent, your spouse, or your limb.  Then, it’s an excuse, a personal problem, a character flaw.  And it isn’t even that your grief doesn’t belong to you, it’s that you don’t belong to your grief.

You are disenfranchised.

From your pain.  From your love.  From your god-granted human experience.  From all of it. 

You are disenfranchised. 

She lost a best friend?  Get over it.  He lost a girlfriend?  Get over it.  They lost a reason to get out of bed in the morning?  Get the fuck over it. 

When our right to grieve is denied us, except within the boxes others say must be checked.  When all love is love, but not all grief is grief.  When pain and mourning require blood kin for legitimacy.  And when the dignity to recover, as we are, is questioned, we are disenfranchised.

And if you wonder why this story has no end, it is because, like an end to grief, there isn’t one.  Because like you, like me, like he, like she, it, and we, remain disenfranchised.

 

© Copyright 2018 William S. Friday

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A Day in an Invisible Life: Hour 6

A Day in an Invisible Life (9)

I feel.

(and by the way, I hate it)

I don’t know why.  I don’t know when.  But there are days that, after a rush of accomplishment, there is a vacuum created inside of me.  It’s almost a physical property, like when a low pressure system moves into a geographic location, and soon after, the real weather moves in.  Dark clouds, heavy with rain.  Wind.  Thunder.  Lightning.  You can taste it. 

Sometimes, the hair on your arms even stands up.

I feel this.

(and by the way, I hate it)

I’m feeling it right now.

And just like the weather, I never know what emotion will blow in when the low pressure system comes.  Today, it’s sadness.  But let’s be clear, today it’s ONLY sadness.  Not depression like the depression that came last summer.  That was a fucking weather Armageddon.  That was purple-black funnel clouds, with cows spinning inside them.  This is just sadness.  Like on another day, it’s just anger, or another day, it’s fear, anticipation, or even joy.

Today, it’s sadness.  And I’m writing my way through it.  It’s how I learned to cope, last summer.  And I’m coping right now.  Hell, I’m even writing a blog post and not matchbook poetry, which was about all I could do in 2017.  Matchbook poetry.  Poetry so short, it could fit on the cover of a matchbook.  Yeah, it’s a thing.  Anyway, if you’ve read the first five posts in this series, and shame on you if you haven’t… I’m laughing as I write that… you know that I’m okay, and you are not to call the authorities when you read shit like “sadness”, “anger”, or “weather Armageddon” in a sentence.  Buddha Bukowski 5 BETTER ENDINGYou also know that, while I have spent the last decade writing poetry that would make Mary Poppins cry, I still believe in the better ending. 

Here’s a picture of a shirt design I created that says so. 

And that I believe all these feelings, these feelings that are as common to everyone as they are to me, are just a part of the earthscape that I’ve been put here to describe, in words that are insufficient.  Which is why I try, every day.  Because maybe, if I try, every day, better words will appear than “sadness” and “anger”.  And you will read them, and know that you are not alone.       

Because when we feel, we are never alone.

(and by the way, even if we hate it)

 

© Copyright 2018 William S. Friday   

A Day in an Invisible Life: Hour 5

A Day in an Invisible Life (6)

I write.

Writing is something I never thought I would do.  In the dedication of my first book, I thanked the junior college English teacher who actually, briefly, encouraged me in the notes of turned-in poetry and prose assignments for her composition class. 

Then I did nothing with words for another 25 years.

With what’s left of this morning, I’ll be writing.

Writer’s block is my friend.  The reason I’m a poet is because of a horrible case of writer’s block about 10 years ago.  I thought I was on my way to being an internet-famous journalist, back when there was such a thing.  I wrote for a site, now long gone, and after a few years of doing that, I simply ran out of words.  Looking back, I’m pretty sure what I ran out of was bullshit.  At least that one particular vein of bullshit I had been mining for hits and likes on that site.  Given how small the pond, for a time, I was a pretty big fish in it, and the idea that I would just run out of ideas was something I wasn’t ready for.  I don’t think anyone is ever really ready for a lie to catch up to them.  The truth was, I wasn’t cut out for that kind of writing.  Deadlines and promises and the responsibilities of a byline had sucked all the clever right out of me.  When I sat down in front of the screen to write, all that was left was a head full of feelings, and a string of incomplete sentences to describe them. 

So after a while, I did just that.  I wrote in short sentences.  I used small words.  And before I wrote, I felt.  Because these were no longer word counts, they were what counts.  I sucked at it, but the what counts started bleeding out of me.  My writing changed, and eventually, I changed.  A little.  I’m still changing.

Except for the process of how I write poetry.  I still do that the way I did when I was a wannabe, writer’s blocked journalist.  On a computer.  It wasn’t until the last year of scribbling in a journal (see the earlier post, Hour 2, for that story) that I could write anything poetic other than by typing. 

My last holdover from those bad old days.

So in this hour, after what feels like a whole day has already passed, I write.  It’s a loose habit now.  Less about discipline and more about need.  I’ve written three books this way so far.  Not out of responsibility, but out of desperation.  All those years ago, when the words stopped coming, it was because there was something more important than words on the way to replace them.  A lifetime of thoughts and feelings, love and pain, and the need to translate them into a language I had never known before.

This may take more than one hour today.

 

© Copyright 2018 William S. Friday

A Day in an Invisible Life: Hour 4

A Day in an Invisible Life (8)

I need to eat something.

I have a stupid high metabolism.  Always have.  Hypoglycemic high, even.  It was inherited.  Hungry sneaks up on me like a kitchen ninja, who sneaks up on you while you’re staring into the fridge.  A really boring ninja. 

Food is always boring.  Boring like that ninja in your kitchen.

Unless I’m actually hungry, because… hypoglycemia.  Except on THIS day, I haven’t been to the grocery store for 5 days past when all the food I want to eat is gone. 

When I’m hungry, food becomes almost exciting.  Not like most people… okay, people who aren’t me… think of as exciting.  Not like 5-Star dining with a whisky bar the size of the closed end of the LA Coliseum exciting.  More like, I have a can of refried black beans with jalapenos, a 6 month old frozen slice of beef brisket, 2 eggs, a jar of salsa past its expiration date, and a few street taco sized corn tortillas, exciting.

Kinda like the ‘I’m hungry and can’t go anywhere’ version of Food Network’s Chopped.  I become competitive with myself.  The-contestant-judging-himself kind of competitive.  Where the only win at the end of the game is, did I like it enough to eat it.  On this day, I did.  And, a little secret, I’m getting good at making my own pan fried tostadas.tostadas png

Apologies to all my Keto brothers and sisters.

So, since you can’t all eat my homemade desperation cooking, here’s a bonus picture.  Sorry if I’m too hungry to talk about it, anymore. And now that I’ve eaten, let’s see what kind of trouble I can get into for Hour 5.

 

© Copyright 2018 William S. Friday

A Day in an Invisible Life: Hour 2

A Day in an Invisible Life (5)

Hour 2

 

I keep a journal. 

It’s not what most people think as a journal.  It’s what I imagine therapy would be like… if I’d ever gone to therapy… which I haven’t.  I have nothing against therapy.  I have friends who go.  I think it speaks volumes that my kids go to therapy, and my eldest grand kid… and my kids’ mother.  And since you’re reading this on a blog, you might think that I subscribe to that very-often-quoted maxim, “I don’t go to therapy, I blog”.  But I don’t.  Subscribe to that very-often-quoted maxim, that is.  I’ve read blogs that purport to be self-therapy for their bloggers. 

All I can say about that is, those bloggers need therapy.

Oh, yeah.  I keep a journal.

It was about a year ago that I finally gave into someone’s idea of a daily practice that could best be called ‘self-care’.  It started with the only thing in my life at the time that could be identified as such.  My morning cup of coffee.  One cup, about a half-hour to drink it, no more—no less.  It was to become a quiet time, a sacred time, filled with nothing but my thoughts… or lack of thoughts… as I sat in remembrance of what was, and the day that was to be. 

That was when my journal came to be.

Originally a place for gratitude, eventually this journal took the shape of… well, a landfill… for thoughts and feelings that had begun to overflow my ability to process in the moment.  I’ve hinted at this in blog posts before, but the truth of things is, about a year ago, I was in the midst of an undiagnosed depressive episode.  My long-overdue first, and since, only, fall down a mineshaft of emotional and spiritual darkness.  To sum it up in a sentence, I was in a really fucked-up place.  But it was in those months that I began to listen to the words that had become stuck inside me, and wrote them all down as they surfaced, in real-time.  The words were full of sadness and anger, hope and confusion, love and hate.  It wasn’t fun and it wasn’t easy.  But I learned that there was a landfill waiting for a whole lifetime of garbage to fill it up. 

So I filled it up.  I still do.  Some days I miss, most days I don’t.  And every day I do it is one more day that I stay out of the mineshaft.  Also, in case you wondered why I don’t share it on the blog, it’s because I don’t believe a blog is therapy.  I believe therapy is therapy, just like I believe a journal isn’t therapy.  But between the coffee, and the quiet, and the pen, and the ink, I’m not where I was a year ago.

So this day, I’ll make a second cup of coffee, sit in the chair between my bed and the window, and drop another page into the landfill.

 

© Copyright 2018 William S. Friday

A Day in an Invisible Life

A Day in an Invisible Life

Prologue…

My days begin in anonymity*. 

Nobody knows who I am, really.  Maybe that’s because I lead a double—life.

There are hints here and there.  Some days… nights, actually…  I call work and tell them I can’t come in.  That I have “something going on with that other job”, and they understand.  But around this town, nobody has a clue of who I am, and what I do. 

 

Hour 1…

The molten sun pours through my window blinds between 6 and 8 am.  I don’t remember it being this way when I moved here last July.  It’s like that scene near the beginning of the movie Jaws, when Chief Brody says basically the same thing to his wife, and she explains it to him.  My observation being not the angle of the sun, or what season I moved in, but that Chief Brody had a wife.

In another minute I decide there’s no use fighting with the sun, and I grab something that passes for pants to wear on the walk downstairs to make coffee.  I’m not against making coffee naked, I just don’t want to be seen doing so by my landlady.  She’s not at all a morning person, but that one time I did laundry naked now shapes the way I make morning coffee for however long I end up living here.

I work nights, and I’ll get to talking about that.  But for right now, I have editing to do.  Not my own, or I’d probably push that off till tomorrow, or the next day.  This is for someone whose book is on deadline, and I don’t intend to be that guy who can’t make other people’s dreams come true.  I’ve been that guy, and that guy has no place in my life, anymore.  So, while my slower-than-a-kid-late-for-school laptop boots, I shuffle downstairs… clothed… to make the magic happen.

Coffee is magic.

I drink my coffee and edit the book, and the sun asks if I wouldn’t mind opening the blinds a little wider, just to make it easier on both of us.  No, the sun doesn’t really talk to me.  That would be crazy.  But I get the hint, and do it.  My room fills with slat-filtered daylight, and the coffee seems stronger for it.  As I search the pages of the book on my screen for errors… and I do find a few… I know that what I’m doing now is important.  It has invisible value.  I guess, like my invisible life.  As I read and make notes on paper, in ink, I forget about the coffee, growing cold in the cup that sits beside me on my bed.  I think how this may be the most important thing I do all day. 

This book is magic.

 

*I began this “day in the life” at the suggestion of a trusted friend.  When I realized I couldn’t jam 24 hours into 600 words, the idea of serializing my day was born.  Next up, Hour 2. 

 

© Copyright 2018 William S. Friday

Nothing Ever Spoken

nothing ever spoken

I offended someone today. 

Not you,

because you weren’t there. 

And not the person who,

gently,

let me know of my offense. 

The person who told me that I had offended someone. 

Sometimes,

I’m insensitive. 

Okay,

more than sometimes,

I just cover it well with most people. 

Sometimes,

I let it slip. 

And this time,

I almost let it slip to cause someone to fall. 

I didn’t want to. 

I spoke,

randomly,

or so I thought. 

But nothing ever spoken is truly random,

is it?

I offended someone today. 

They just didn’t know it,

but I do,

now. 

Not you,

because they weren’t there. 

But someone was,

who cared.

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

With My Heart

nano poblano photo 29 With My Heart png

I saw things with my heart once,

years ago. 

Before the bad decisions. 

Before the good decisions gone bad. 

Before there were no more decisions left to make. 

 

And then my heart went dark.

 

Until,

years later. 

After the bad decisions. 

After the bad decisions gone worse. 

After there were no more decisions left to make.

 

And then you turned the light back on.

 

I saw things with my heart once,

years ago. 

Before my heart went dark. 

And now,

I see them with my heart once more.

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

I’m Guessing

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This much I know. 

You’re not that into me. 

I think I’d know it if you were. 

Here’s what I don’t know. 

Why it is you keep me around. 

Maybe you’re just undecided. 

This is all brand new to me. 

And so are you. 

I’m a lousy guesser. 

I’m guessing you are too.

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

When an Empath has no Empathy

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I undergo profound changes every November. 

Cataclysmic, visions-of-a-personal-apocalypse life changes.  It’s happened three Novembers in a row now.  Sure, it’s only a blog challenge, but I’m generally blog-challenged, being a poet and not really a blogger at all.  So when November rolls around, it seems like I’m just not allowed to ignore all the seismic emotional upheaval that something of this creative magnitude rips open for 30 days straight.

See, here’s the thing, because you knew there’d be a thing, right?  The thing is, I’m kind of an empath.  Not the ‘I shake your hand and know where you’ve buried the bodies’ kind of empath.  Just the ‘I feel things deeper than most people’ kind. 

My feelings. 

Your feelings. 

Friends’ feelings. 

Strangers’ feelings.

Hell, I even feel your dog’s feelings.

Did you ever see the movie “Species”?  The original, where the government assembled a team of previous strangers with varied skill-sets to capture and/or kill the Escaped Sexy Female Alien Hybrid, on the loose and looking to mate?  Then you remember the soft-spoken empath, played by Academy Award™ winning actor Forest Whitaker.  This version of the B-movie empath wasn’t a psychic, or in touch with the spirit world, or whatever other way B-movies portray the empath.  This version could simply feel what others around him were feeling, and tell you what those feeling meant

I liked that interpretation. 

Because at the roots, it’s the closet I’ve ever come to being introduced to mine. 

And then there’s the downside. 

The thing is, I’m kind of an empath.  Not the ‘I shake your hand and know where you’ve buried the bodies’ kind of empath.  Just the ‘I feel things deeper than most people’ kind. 

My feelings. 

Your feelings. 

Friends’ feelings. 

Strangers’ feelings.

Hell, I even feel your dog’s feelings.

Especially my feelings.

Which in the past, I could ignore for my own sanity’s sake.  But last November, after writing a super-concentrated month’s-worth of feelings, I lost the ability to bury mine.  No more clearly-marked boxes for emotions.  No more handy compartments for feelings to go.  No more mindless default ways to ignore them.  They were, for the first time, all on the same great big plate like a 64-box of crayons melted together in a microwave oven, and it was a fucking mess. 

My fucking mess. 

And I had to choose my path before it killed me.

The title of this post is, “When an Empath has no Empathy”.  It comes from a random thought that popped into my empath head a couple of days ago, about someone from my past, equally gifted with the ability to ‘feel all the feels’ like I do.  A random thought that goes, “What if you were an empath with no empathy?  Wouldn’t that just make you a sociopath?” 

And after reading everything… okay, a few things on Reddit… my non-clinical, non-scientific answer is, “Yeah… I think it would.”

But is that how I want to live the rest of my life?  Just surviving like a spiritual grifter, living off the feelings of others instead of feeling all the feels and helping those who need whatever it is I can do with all the messed up feelings.

My feelings. 

Your feelings. 

Friends’ feelings. 

Strangers’ feelings.

Hell, I even feel your dog’s feelings.

Especially my feelings.

So this November, I was left with a choice.  Do I want to spend the rest of my life finding new ways to shut off all the feelings and face the consequences of knowing and not caring?  Or do I stay on the path, as I suppose was originally intended, and learn how to be who I am?  Feeling, and dealing with my choices.

Like I said, I undergo profound changes every November.

And I can’t wait until December.

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

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